The power of design: looking good, feeling good.

My favourite book is a copy of the Hobbit that i won in an art competition when i was about ten. It’s a great story, self contained, elements of adventure and companionship, a dragon and treasure and, best of all, a journey into the unknown. It’s illustrated with Tolkien’s original paintings, each watercolour of a different scene and characters from the book, as he saw them. And it’s nicely bound, a hardback edition. It looks good and feels good, both content and form are pleasing for me, partly due to it’s place in my personal history (or Timeline as Facebook would have it).

My favourite software is actually WordPress, the software i use for the blog. It’s intuitively simple to use, well laid out, it’s never gone wrong on me and the enthusiasm of the community shines through. Now and then they make a change that invariably puts a button or feature exactly where i want it, it shortcuts something that used to take me longer to do. It looks simple and clear and functionally it’s efficient.

Both of these things are well designed: the book and the software. Design covers a wide range of things. Graphic design, technical design, learning design, garden design: things that cover form and function.

In the news yesterday that in Silicon Valley, designers are now more sought after than developers, and small wonder. Things that are well designed are successful.

In learning, we have to think about the learning design, the narrative journey that we take the learner through, but we also have to think about technical and graphic design. It’s no good having a great piece of learning that runs like a dog, or a super fast and whizzy piece of learning that looks great but has no coherence. I am as guilty as anyone of sometimes missing the mark.

Corporate guidelines and content review cycles can be the natural enemy of good design if we are not careful. Know your enemy and be prepared! If we see what works and keep an eye on the user experience, the things that people actually like, then we should be able to stay on track.

When we’re starting a project, it’s worth asking who is responsible for design in each of these areas, and it’s worth checking in on them periodically throughout the process. Good design doesn’t just happen by itself, it has to be worked on over time.

About julianstodd

Author, Artist, Researcher, and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the context of the Social Age and the intersection of formal and social systems.
This entry was posted in Book, Design, Functional Design, Graphic Design, Learning, Learning Design and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The power of design: looking good, feeling good.

  1. It is interesting to note that you flag up the importance of good design being intuitive. I agree and as you point out good design doesn’t just happen. I think though that it is a very fine line and often within that process design can edge towards being clever and loses sight of the importance of intuition. I enjoyed this post thank you. Oh and I think you are right about WordPress – even I can keep up with the changes – thanks to intuition 😉

  2. julianstodd says:

    I totally agree – it’s easy to accidentally engineer out the good design in the interest of being clever!

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